The State Bank of Vietnam has extended its deadline for gold traders to apply for new business licenses to February, a move that analysts say will not mean much to traders who are unable to meet a strict new criteria.
Under a decree, which took effect on Friday, gold bar traders are required to show a registered capital of at least VND100 billion (US$4.8 million), a minimum tax payment of VND500 million, and a presence in at least three provinces or major cities.
Previously, the central bank gave all existing gold traders six months to continue buying and selling gold bars while applying for a new license.
But according to new guidelines announced last Friday, the deadline has been extended to February 10.
Nguyen Van Dung, chairman of the Saigon Jewelry Association in Ho Chi Minh City, said most of the city's 2,000 gold shops have a capital base of less than VND10 billion with a monthly tax payment of several million dong.
Very few of these traders are able to meet the new requirements , Dung said, adding that commercial banks are more likely to become the nation's gold traders.
The new decree will give the State Bank of Vietnam complete control over gold bar production as well as the exportation and importation of materials for casting bullion. The central bank has announced plans to release further guidelines concerning these issues.
While the market continues to await further information, speculation that the central bank will take over Saigon Jewelry Company, the country's largest gold trader and producer, has caused many people to shun gold products from other manufacturers.
Even though the State Bank has assured the public that all brands will be allowed to be traded, gold bars from other producers are fetching lower prices than SJC bullion.
An SJC official who asked not to be named said that the the company has halted production of gold bars. As a result, it cannot buy gold from other companies and recast them.
Nguyen Thi Cuc, deputy director of Phu Nhuan Jelwery, said customers who have bought PNJ gold bars can sell them back to the company at the same price as SJC products.
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