Panic has spread across South Viet-Nam following the loss of about three fourths of the nation's territory to communist forces.
Panic has spread across South Viet-Nam following the loss of about three fourths of the nation's territory to communist forces. Despite repeated announcements that bank accounts will not be frozen, Vietnamese in Saigon are rapidly drawing out all available funds from their banks. As from Friday (04.04.) most of the banks in Saigon announced that they would be open only for four hours every day. And today, several foreign bands told customers that they would no longer change foreign currency or hand over remittance orders from abroad. Meanwhile, the black market rate has rocketed in the space of a week from 720 to the dollar to more than 2,000. This is the first real jump since the communist offensive in 1972. The price of gold has also gone up from 127,000 per ounce to nearly 140,000 per ounce in the last seven days. Gold has jumped because of its portability - many Vietnamese are buying solid 18-karat pieces in the hope that they will be easily exchanged for cash should Saigon fall under attack.
There was no panic at the banks today, but a steady stream of customers entered most of the established banks to enquire about transferring funds out of the country. So far, they have been refused. The banks say that cash may be withdrawn, but only in piasters. They have already stopped issuing traveller's changes to Vietnamese and foreigners alike.