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How much gold kept among Vietnamese people?   2010-11-10 - VietNamNet

Newly released information that Vietnam has imported 1000 tons of gold in the last 20 years has stirred up the public. Experts now try to guest how many tons of gold are being kept among Vietnamese people and what Vietnam should do to use the huge capital in the most effective way.


The information about the 1000 tons of gold imported in the last 20 years was released by Le Duc Thuy, former Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam, now Chair of the National Finance Supervision Council. The head of the council did not confirm the existence of 1000 tons of gold among the public, but he said: “I am sure that a large volume of gold is being kept in people’s homes”.

Thuy commented that Vietnam should not make a hasty move to prohibit the transactions in gold. The prohibition can only put gold out of the official circulation, while the gold will still exist in the society. Meanwhile, gold should be seen as an important source of capital, and if gold cannot be put into official circulation, it will be “sitting idle”, not making profit, or will be traded on the black market. i.e out of the control of the management agencies. Thuy believes that it would be better to attract the huge capital (gold) into banks instead of prohibiting transactions in the gold.

While the national economy needs more and more capital from different sources for its development and investment, gold trading floors have been shut down and the gold prices have been continuously climbing to new highs. One week ago the State Bank issued a legal document to scale down the activities of mobilizing capital in gold and lending gold.

However, a senior official of the State Bank of Vietnam has denied the fact that 1000 tons of gold is now lying under people’s pillows. “To date, no one can say for sure how much gold is being kept among people,” he said.

The figure cited by the former Governor of the State Bank is sourced from the World Gold Council and the figure does not include the illegal imports and the import volume through other unofficial channels that the organization still cannot reckon up.

Meanwhile, the general director of a famous gold trading company guesses that people are only keeping 200 tons of gold because when the world’s gold prices were higher than the domestic prices, a substantial volume of gold was illegally exported,. However, he stressed that 200 tons of gold would also be a large volume of capital, worth $10 billion and the capital should be put into business rather than sitting idle.

Meanwhile, VnExpress newspaper quoted a director of a big bank in Hanoi as saying that the management agency needs to consider the specific characteristics of the market in Vietnam. In other countries, gold is considered as a type of good and not a tool of payment. Therefore, the volume of gold kept among people is not very big. Meanwhile, in Vietnam, gold is not only used as a kind of good (jewelry products), but also as a kind of asset (people store gold instead of cash)

If the management agency tries to weed out gold from the official channel, even though people still want to keep gold as their assets, this is really a kind of the management agency’s “voluntarism” which wastes a large amount of capital.

“It will be not the right time to weed out gold from the official channel until gold is no longer favored by people,” he said.

Meanwhile, the central bank, while trying to protect its view that it is necessary to prohibit transactions in gold, said that the massive mobilization and lending in gold have been making the dollarization in the national economy more serious and encouraging speculation.

Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam once declared that in case the market has gold in excess, the central bank may spend money to purchase gold to increase gold reserves.

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