Puerto Rico’s historically outdated Property Registry has been thrust into the 21st century through a $6.9 million modernization project that converted the government’s database from paper to fully electronic and available 24/7, Justice Secretary César Miranda announced Thursday.
The “Karibe program,” the name given to the new registration application that provides a platform to run the new Digital Property Registry, required the automation, digitalization and integration of more than 100 years of Puerto Rican registration history to achieve the transformation of an archaic and complicated system into one that is easy to operate, 100 percent electronic and on par with the best in the world, he said.
“With the implementation of ‘Karibe’ and the adoption of Laws 209 and 210 of December 2015, the total modernization of the Land Registry was achieved,” Miranda said. “What was the dream of many notaries, bankers, titles researchers, technicians and property registrars, today is a reality. Puerto Rico now has a record that provides, in real time, a level of certainty of real estate transactions that few of us dared to think was possible only two years ago.”
The Land Registry was founded in 1893 by the Mortgage Act for overseas provinces. Until the 70s and with some changes since then, the Puerto Rican registry was deteriorating to become what some came to call “the Cinderella” of the government.
An earlier digitalized version of the registry was launched, but soon became obsolete because the Island never had access to the source code to update or temper the application to their particular needs, the government official said.
The Registry’s archaic infrastructure created huge backlogs in qualification and registration of the documents submitted. Those arrears, estimated at some 350,000 documents, forced the purchase of more expensive insurance that made registration procedures more expensive, removed certainty and confidence in the registry, and become obstacles to economic transactions of goods.
The new Digital Registry is the only agency connected in real time with the Attorneys Registry, the Municipal Revenue Collection Center (known as CRIM), the Office of Permit Management and the Treasury Department.
It provides eAccess to several government agencies, such as the State Insurance Fund, the Office of the Independent Special Prosecutor, the Office of the Notarial Inspector, the Government Ethics Office, the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Division, and the Office of the Comptroller, among others, to conduct investigations into corruption, money laundering, tax evasion, file attachments, study lots and other matters within the agency.
Until two months ago, those tasks involved moving staff throughout 29 sections that were not connected to try to obtain information that was often inaccessible or difficult to locate because it had to be done manually.
The Registry’s modernization required digitizing more than 11 million pages and 42,313 volumes of information. In the first months of use, the “Karibe” system has generated more than $7.4 million in revenue for the government, Miranda said.