The volume of US dollars flowing into commercial banks has increased following the crackdown on the black market.

Since March 6 the State Bank of Vietnam and police and market officials have raided many unauthorised foreign-exchange counters around the country, especially in big cities.

As a result, people have shifted forex transactions from the black market to commercial banks, also causing an appreciation in the value of the dong.

At Agribank's Ben Thanh branch, for instance, the dollar buying price on March 11 was 20,860 VND and the selling rate, 20,875 VND, down 5 VND from the day before.

Nguyen Hoang Minh, deputy director of the central bank's HCM City branch, said forex counters at banks had become busier in the last few days, with the number of people selling dollars increasing.

He hailed the change, saying it would help stabilising the domestic foreign currency market as well as the forex rates.

But while the foreign exchange market has become better regulated, with moneychangers' exchange rates coming closer to banks', individuals are unable to buy the greenback at banks even for legitimate purposes.

Tran Nguyet Anh of Tan Binh district said she wanted to buy 3,000 USD to visit her son who is studying in Australia , but has been refused by seven different banks.

"Some banks told me they did not have dollars to sell to individuals while others said they were not allowed to sell since forex rates were fluctuating dramatically," she said.

Nguyen Thuy Thanh of district 7 said she wanted to buy a mere 500 USD for an official trip to Singapore . "All the banks I went to told me they did not have dollars to sell to individuals for tourism," she said.

Minh admitted that people were unable to buy dollars at banks.

"Banks have limited dollar volumes and therefore cannot meet customers' demand," he said.

Most banks gave priority to import-export firms and individuals going abroad to study or for medical treatment, he said.

The deputy general director of a major bank said for several months banks had been unable to buy dollars from individuals getting overseas remittances or having savings and so did not have enough to meet demand, especially that of individuals. /.