HANOI, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Vietnam’s central bank said it will directly import gold and trade the precious metal with gold companies and banks, as part of its plan to control the domestic market and ease pressures on the local currency.
The State Bank of Vietnam will open accounts overseas to import gold when it sells the metal in the domestic market, it said in a draft directive to be submitted to the government for approval.
It will sell gold to companies and banks to stabilise the market or buy from them for boosting national reserves at prices decided by the governor, said the draft, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters on Thursday.
Vietnam has been importing the precious metal via gold companies and banks, which receive quotas from the central bank. The nation has to import up to 95 percent of its gold demand for the domestic market.
It is still unclear when the central bank will start trading and whether it will allow any banks or gold companies to import the metal on its behalf.
“It will not be an easy task for the central bank to organise the imports and trading, as it does not have an available trading network as the banks and companies,” said an executive of a gold company who declined to be identified.
The Southeast Asian nation, once one of the world’s largest gold importers, last bought in five to six tonnes of the metal in September 2011, the company executive said.
The central bank has asked all lenders to cease raising deposits on gold bars by June 30 while turning itself into the importing monopoly in an attempt to tighten gold trading in the country.
Vietnamese people tend to keep gold for savings in the wake of inflation, which was once among the highest in Asia, while dollar accumulation for smuggling the precious metal often pressures the dong. (Reporting by Hanoi Newsroom; Editing by Kim Coghill)