The interbank forex rates quoted daily by the State Bank of Vietnam and other commercial banks exist on paper only, as businesses have to pay a higher price to buy the greenback, according to Dau Tu Chung Khoan newspaper.
The firm has been charged with an additional 1 percent of this price as fees, though the selling price was posted at VND 21,011 per dollar, said a manager of an animal feed firm in southern industrial hub of Binh Duong.
Similarly, importers of essential commodities, such as fertilizer, agricultural and garment and textile materials, have also born such added costs.
“Saigon Petro Co Ltd has been charged VND500 -600 more for any dollar we purchased,” general director Dang Vinh Sang told Saigon Tiep Thi newspaper.
Banks are not allowed to charge fees on dollar purchase, but the charging can be done via other kinds of related services which are negotiable between banks and customers, said a capital manager at Techcombank.
“But the situations generally reflect the imbalance in supply-demand of the greenback, the dollar liquidity shortage,” he added.
Higher forex rate on the free market than on the official market could have made purchasing and then selling at the officially quoted forex rate almost unlikely, according to banking experts.
The current forex rate has failed to reflect the real relation between the Vietnam dong and US dollar, said economist Vu Dinh Anh, deputy director of the government's Market and Price Research Institute.
The additional fee is actually a type of price.
This cost together with the official rate could even surpass prices on the free market, which reveals something wrong with the official market, he added.
"Like the management of ceiling interest rate earlier, it is the lack of timely investigation and tough penalties that give a rise to charging further in selling foreign currency", said Anh.
A substantial trade deficit that adversely hit the forex market has been the major factor bringing about the imbalance in demand-supply of the greenback, according to the central bank.
Also, the breaking of the forex cap rate by several credit institutions' and branches of foreign banks has blown a dealt to foreign currency stability as well as the business operations of other lenders.
For strict compliance with the regulations to be executed, the inspection and investigation regarding foreign currency trading with customers and on the interbank market will be carried out at some soon, the central bank said.
In fact, the additional fee is recorded under a different name on books of banks and enterprises, which could be abused to benefit some, said Dr Vo Tri Thanh, deputy director of the Institute for Central Economic Research Management.
For instance, the representative of an enterprise could retain the extra amount when selling dollar to banks. Also, further expenses could be intentionally pushed up when purchasing dollar from banks so as to enjoy the difference.
Cure: synchronous measures in need
"It is important that a dialogue between the central bank and commercial banks as well as between commercial banks and customers should be conducted", said Thanh.
Apart from tough administrative measures, the central bank's further intervention into the market is still needed, according to a manager of Techcombank.
Enterprises in several privileged sectors that have direct impact on the socioeconomic picture, for instance, will be given the first priority to purchase dollar.
It may stand to reason that the central bank is stick to the ceiling forex rate, yet the lack of transparency could not stand, said a banking expert.
Stiff penalties may be required so as for strict compliance to be ensured. Therefore, the central bank should have dollar sold out so as to ease the surging demand.
Otherwise, commercial banks and enterprises should, meanwhile, be required to make clear the additional fee for more transparency, thus facilitating the central bank's monitoring.