By BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — The International Monetary Fund says it has reached a preliminary agreement to provide $2.9 billion over four years to help crisis-hit Sri Lanka. A visiting IMF team says the agreement is subject to the approval of IMF leaders and contingent on financing assurances from Sri Lanka’s creditors and other steps. Sri Lanka is facing acute shortages of essentials such as fuel, medicines and food because of serious foreign currency shortages. The nation has suspended repayment of nearly $7 billion in foreign debt due this year. Its total foreign debt is more than $51 billion. Sri Lanka’s economy is expected to contract by 8.7% this year and inflation has exceeded 60%.