Vietnamese people are keeping a combined US$9.7 billion in dollar notes at home, Saigon Tiep Thi newspaper reported Friday, citing a senior economist.
Le Dang Doanh, former director of the Central Institute of Economic Management, said the figure came to him as a surprise when he was calculating the country's balance of payments.
"The ($9.7 billion) sum could not be found in bank accounts, so it must be in the pockets of local people," he said. "It means the country won't be short of dollars if the amount can be mobilized."
His estimate was in line with figures released by the World Bank, the newspaper said. According to Martin Rama, lead economist at the World Bank, Vietnamese people are holding billions of dollars.
The World Bank said in a report on the East Asian economy that "unusually large errors and omissions in the balance of payments by about 10 percent of GDP, and the dollar trading outside the dong band in parallel markets, indicate a lack of confidence in the dong."
"Throughout 2009, households and domestic enterprises (including large state-owned economic groups) have been betting on a devaluation of the dong," the Bank said.
The lender forecast Vietnam's foreign exchange reserves will rise 15 percent this year to $17.5 billion, after a fall of nearly 34 percent in 2009.
The currency market has stabilized over the past week as the gap between unofficial dollar/dong exchange rate and the interbank rate is narrowing, now standing at only around VND30-40 per dollar.