Should the Land Title Registry go digital?



    If you’ve ever had to deal with the Land Title Registry at Waigani, it’s one huge challenge. It’s a huge challenge because you’re likely to face problems that can frustrate you, take up your valuable time and cost you a lot of money too.  Some of these problems include the registry files you require not being available, files going missing, the person you want to see is not at work, the registry officer doesn’t take your calls or doesn’t reply your email – the list goes on.  In the worst case scenario, the results of title searches not matching with the records you have.

    With all these problems happening on a daily basis, you’d have to wonder whether there is an easier way to go about this process so that the public gets the information they want within a reasonable time.  After all, the land title register is a facility that should be available to the public.

    One such option to those in decision making capacities should consider is to go digital. By going digital, the process that is often isolated becomes more open, more public and even better available anywhere, anytime.  An online database that is available to the public can make the searching and processing of land titles more transparent.

    One clear example of a registry going digital is the Companies and Business Name Register initiated by the Investment Promotion Authority.  The ability to get information of companies or business names has never been easier to the public.  There is a misconception that information within the Companies and Business Name Register and likewise the Land Title Register are confidential. Most if not all the information in the respective registers are public information and subject to payment of a fee you are entitled to access the information in the register.

    The benefit of a digital land title registry is that accessing the information is not subject to the availability of the file (as is the case when conducting physical title searches) and the officer who has carriage of that file.  Currently, those officers who are in charge of files make them a “VIP” and the process can become stagnant all because of the officer is unavailable for whatever reason.  This should not be the case.

    The digital solution would make the whole process more transparent. The public would have the benefit of searching a particular title which would include information on the documents lodged, information on registration and the current status of any applications made by the owner or third parties on that file.

    There is of course the issue of cost in setting up a digital database but it would certainly help if the Land Title Registry did their own research by walking over to IPA and finding out how their system works. This would be a much cheaper step than taking the big leap and going on a fact finding mission overseas.

    The biggest responsibility for the Land Title Registry for this proposed digital solution would be to process the documents lodged and update the database in a timely manner. By having the database up to date, it would certainly cut down the “over the counter” customer enquiry time and allow them to concentrate more on processing applications for a given title and updating the database.

    And perhaps one of the biggest benefits out of this is that the digital solution takes away the “VIP” status of an officer. If the officer having carriage of the matter is not available or not at work, the information a customer requires can still be provided by another officer or accessible in the digital database.

    Do you like this idea? What would you suggest to improve the system?

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