Ivory Coast’s prime minister has decided to sack the head of the Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC) Massandjé Touré Litse, owing to a crisis over cocoa contract defaults and other management issues, sources said on Tuesday.
Former presidential advisor Yves Kone will be the new CCC managing director, one of the most powerful government positions in the world’s leading cocoa producer, a source from the finance ministry and a CCC source confirmed to Reuters.
Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly took the decision on Tuesday and will officially announce it during Wednesday’s cabinet meeting, the sources said.
The finance ministry source said the reason for the management change was poor handing of the defaults and “poor management” in general.
Ivory Coast’s cocoa industry has suffered a wave of defaults on cocoa contracts this year, after exporters speculating that prices would continue to rise failed to lock in prices before a large fall. The CCC has been accused of failing to be transparent about them, by not publishing any data.
Cocoa prices have fallen by about 40 percent in the past year, driven down partly by a bumper harvest in Ivory Coast, which supplies more than a third of world demand.
Members of an Ivory Coast cocoa exporters association said in January that they would default on around 80,000 tonnes of export contracts.
Exporters are still required to purchase physical cocoa for their spot contracts at the government-mandated price. However, the CCC must cover any losses they incur selling those beans at current world price levels, which is likely to incur huge costs for the board and Ivory Coast’s treasury.