Central bank looks to crack whip on runaway interest rates

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The State Bank of Vietnam Wednesday asked its branches to inspect commercial lenders and make a list of those offering deposit rates of more than 14 percent.

The move is part of the efforts to monitor both deposit and lending rates, officials said.

The central bank's action came after several lenders increased their dong deposit rates to as high as 17-18 percent a year.

Techcombank, the fifth-largest bank in term of assets among Vietnam's 39 partly-private lenders, announced a "golden" three-day program Wednesday in which customers would receive interest rates of 17 percent on dong deposits made between December 8 and 10.

Several hours later, at around 1 p.m. SeABank took it a percent further, offering a stupendous 18 percent on 36-month dong deposits.

But after the central bank issued its order for inspection, SeABank decreased their rate to a more acceptable 14 percent.

Apart from SeABank, other lenders had also sent messages to their customers announcing deposit rates of 17 percent or more following Techcombank's hike.

Ho Huu Hanh, director of the central bank's Ho Chi Minh City branch, said his agency would prepare measures to deal with banks pushing their interest rates higher than the average market rate.

Duong Thu Huong, general secretary of the Vietnam Bank Association, said Vietnam's inflation rate would be 11.5 percent this year at the highest, thus there was no reason to raise the interest rates to more than 14 percent a year.

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